PP Jeradin was on Saturday elected as general secretary of the pastoral council, a committee comprised of priests and devotees of the Syro Malabar Church. His appointment comes as a setback to the Syro-Malabar church head Cardinal Mar George Alencherry as Jeradin belongs to the group that has been vocally opposing him.
It was the first time that the pastoral council, the upper council of the devotees, had convened a meeting after the controversial land deal rocked the church. Jeradin’s appointment also comes a day after the division bench of the Kerala High Court stayed police action against Alencherry and three others in the controveresial land deal case.
In the pastoral meeting on Saturday the Cardinal, the supreme authority of the church, faced severe criticism for not being vigilant in the land deals. Senior priest of the Syro- Malabar Catholic Church, Father Paul Thelekkat presented the land deal issue at the meeting, which was discussed in detail. In the meeting, the group which took a stand against the Cardinal got the upper hand. There are 120 representatives of the devotees and 60 priests in the council.
Father Benny Maramparambil explained how an inquiry on the land deal was carried out by a priests’ committee and how canon laws were violated.
The allegation against the Cardinal, arch diocese procurator Father Joshy Puthuva and Father Sebastian Vadakumpadan is that there were financial irregularities which resulted in huge loss for the Archdiocese in buying and selling land. The land deals were also allegedly conducted without consultation. Saju Varghese, a real estate dealer had allegedly facilitated the deals. The Archdiocese in 2016 had sold a three –acre piece of land in Kochi to repay Rs 60 crore bank loan. The loan was availed for to buy land at Maddur in Ernakulam to construct a medical college, though the decision to build medical college was squashed by the predecessor of Alencherry.
Devotees formed the Save Archdiocesan Movement to expose the irregularities and to bring in correctional measures. Shine Varghese belonging to the movement moved the Kerala High Court over the land deal.
On March 6 the single bench directed the police to book the Cardinal, the two other priests and the middleman in the case as it found the documents submitted by the petitioner as evidence for the financial manipulations. On March 12, the police registered a case against them. However, on Friday the division bench stayed police action.